Wireflow lighting by Arik Levy for Vibia shines in Barcelona’s new Barton tapas bar and restaurant

On a bright corner within Barcelona’s Eixample neighbourhood, the renowned Spanish interior designer Isabel López Vilalta has transformed a delicatessen that once sold Italian pasta into a tapas bar and restaurant. Barton’s meticulously designed decor is like an extension of the menu itself. It specializes in traditional local cuisine, tapas and raw food.: a mix of styles that brings together classic flavours from the past with the most iconic symbol of contemporary Spanish cuisine combined with the latest trends and techniques of avant-garde raw-vegan cuisine.

The traditional food and tapas are reflected very clearly in the design approach. Retro decorative elements such as an entire timber-panelled wall create a dialogue with more contemporary elements such as the minimalist bar counter, or the polished concrete floor which captures the essence of the innovative Spanish tapas that have lately captured an international following.

The raw food school of cooking meanwhile brings an avant-garde aspect to Barton, offering both in terms of its innovative approach and cooking techniques. The result is a delicately sensitive cuisine with an imperceptible scientific foundation, concepts which have been transposed onto the space through the lighting scheme featuring lamps such as Wireflow produced by the Spanish company Vibia. The strong graphic character of these lamps designed by Arik Levy provide “a poetic touch and yet at the same time are very high-tech,” the designers point out.

Wireflow’s main feature is that the wires themselves are what define its shape, which is embodied in a very graphic and delicate tracery that seems to hang from the ceiling like some stray wiring. It’s an extremely ethereal design but at the same time with a strong character.

That intriguing aspect involving presence and absence in such a large-scale ethereal lighting scheme creates a very particular ambience in a restaurant where the huge floor-to-ceiling windows of the facade completely blur the boundaries between the interior and the street outside.

“We retained these wonderful windows from the previous incarnation but it presented a big challenge,” says Isabel López Vilalta, “because we had to create a specific atmosphere within a space which because of the large windows feels like being in the middle of the street.” The row of Wireflow fittings that is strung out along the almost entirely transparent divide where the dining tables are organized also helps to subtly define the street boundary while maintaining visual continuity with the outside.

Apart from the Wireflow fitting, Vilalta’s studio was commissioned to custom design and produce almost everything else – including wood panelling made using recycled wood (which transmits an aged quality to the bar counter) and the furniture (high tables combined with the In Between chairs by Sami Kallio for &Tradition and the low Plywood lounge type chairs originally designed by the Eames for Vitra).

The kitchen is connected with the dining area via a screen of open shelving, which lends depth to the space and facilitates a fluid and direct communication between the chefs and the waiting staff. The felt used to cover the walls and ceiling provides a warm ambience and contributes to the overall acoustic comfort while the coloured cushions bring a laid back whimsical element to the space that is an experience for all five senses.